Published On: Sat, May 2nd, 2020

The Biggest Dos and Don’ts for Emailing Your Project Team

As a project manager, you will spend a large portion of your time communicating with your team regarding project outcomes and goals. Email will be one communication tool you use. A reliable technology, project management training details the use of email as quick and effective, and one that creates a clear electronic trail of communication between you and team members. It can be used to connect with one team member as it can for whole team discussions. But what project management courses may not always cover, is some of the dos and don’ts of using email to communicate effectively with your team.

photo/ Gerd Altmann

How to use email effectively 

DO consider the tone and content of your email message before your press send. This is especially important when chasing deadlines or information. Occasionally, with urgent demands pressing, emails can be ‘fire off’ that later cause issues in the team or with individuals.

DON’T use email to raise contentious issues or individual problems with the team as a whole. Take note of who you copy in and your reasons for doing so. Concerns and issues should be raised with team members individually.

DO format your emails, especially when there is a large amount of detail or content to be shared. Using bullet points, headings and colours, as well as bold and italic text can help people ‘see’ the information more clearly.

DON’T allow an email thread to become taken over by another subject. Email threads are the ideal way of recording conversation between team members, especially in relation to key goals and project objectives. They can become long but shouldn’t be cumbersome but make sure that everyone uses each thread in the right way, i.e. not hijacking an email conversation by introducing another topic.

DO highlight actions needed and, if you do assign a task within the email, always make sure team members are clearly assigned to tasks

DON’T allow email to be part of project drift. In other words, ask people to respond to your email, any action points raised or questions that need answering by clearly setting out when responses are to be made and how. It may not be in response to the email but rather a report to be submitted.

DO bear in mind that copies of email are part and parcel of project communication and although you may talk informally to your staff, it needs to present a professional image of you, your team and the way in which the project is being managed. This is especially important when the clients are included in the recipient list. 

DON’T forget to flag messages as urgent if they require an immediate or timely response. Although a great communication tool, it is not uncommon to find that team members will access their emails at different times of the day. If needed, you may need to alert the project team through other means that there is an important email circulating. 

Email is, without a doubt, one of the most effective tools for staying in touch with your team, as well as circulating and updating project information.  Use it well and it will help you get through any project.

Author: Joanne Jeffries

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